Los Angeles, CA – It started with missing 3 pointers.
Then, the struggle to sink mid-range jumpers crept in.
Finally, the lay ups would just bounce off one part of the rim and out the other.
And the one-point lead turned to 16. Then 17. Then 19.
The deficit was too much for the Los Angeles Sparks as the Minnesota Lynx evened out the WNBA Finals 2-2 with a 80-69 win in Los Angeles.
“I thought they played extremely well, played to their strengths, played determined.” said coach Brian Agler, “We’ll have to regroup and get ready for Game 5.”
Sylvia Fowles continued her double-double of points and rebounds average, posting up 22 points and 13 rebounds.
Rebekkah Brunson added 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Maya Moore scored 15.
Odyssey Sims turned it up in the final quarter with a pair of 3s and 10 points to finish with 18. Nneka Ogwumike added 17 points and eight rebounds.
No one on Los Angeles had double-digit rebounds, and to make matters worse, the Lynx out-rebounded the Sparks 48-27.
“To compete with Minnesota you have to stay in the game with them with the
rebounding,” said Agler, “obviously that was a wide margin
The Sparks weren’t driving to the rim as they normally did in previous games and looked to have burned out midway into the first quarter.
Los Angeles hit shots from distance only for them to come up short.
The Sparks were 1-for-10 from downtown in the first half, sinking their first 3-ball with 3:24 left in the half courtesy of Odyssey Sims. She’d have four of the Sparks’ five three-pointers.
Los Angeles started aggressive and once they diverted their game to the perimeter, the Lynx started to gain composure and momentum, eventually taking the lead and extending it to as much as a 15-point advantage.
The Lynx dominated on offense and on rebounds for the most part, going on a 9-0 run with minutes left in the first quarter to make it a double-digit lead.
The inconsistent shooting continued in the second quarter, but this time, the Sparks started missing lay ups as well. Then they started missing their mid-range jumpers.
Though the Sparks took less attempted threes in the third quarter, the Lynx were still bossing them around on the court, notably Fowles’ block on defense transitioning to her assist on the other end.
By the final 10 minutes, only Ogwumike was in double-digit scoring with 12 points for the Sparks. The Lynx had three players, two knocking on 20.
Sims started getting in the groove in the fourth quarter and drained five points in the opening 90 seconds of the final frame.
She later hit one from downtown on the right flank to make it a 10-2 Sparks run at the start of the quarter and cut the double-digit lead to a 9-point, 63-54, Lynx advantage.